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Painting of a horse and deer.

Head of a horse, and rear of a deer.

Period: Palaeolithic
Site: Rock Art

The Grotte de Merveilles is an interesting cave to visit for both its geology and prehistory – hence its name. Merveilles is the French word for ‘wonders’. One of the smaller of the decorated caves open to the public, there are only 22 individual figures known. Painted in red and black, they are easy to see, and the cave is well worth a visit. There are the usual paintings of animals, six horses, a deer and a feline, as well as a number of other indeterminate animal figures.

The more enigmatic feature of the paintings here are the 6 negative hand stencils. Negative hand stencils were created when a hand was placed right up against rock surface and pigment was then blown through the long bones of animal onto the hand and surrounding rock surface leaving a negative impression of the hand. This is the same technique used to make some of the images. Here at Grotte de Merveilles you will clearly see that the pigment of the depictions was blown onto the rock face not applied with a paint brush or pencil. As in the photograph of the hindquarters of a deer (left, ‘facing’ down the rock face) and a horses head and neck – on the right facing to the left.

Facilities & Visiting Grottes des Merveilles:

entry-fee-euro not-open-year-round opening-hours guided-visits-only onsite-information family-children-activities refreshments onsite-shop toilets no-dogs-allowed no-photographs parking bus-parking

Guided tours are in French and last about 45 minutes, but it is possible to get a tour in English.

Where is Grottes des Merveilles?

The cave entrance is just a few hundred metres from the tourist office in the town of Hospitalet. Which itself is on the plateau above the famous and picturesque cliff-side village of Rocamadour.

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Further Information:

  • Check the official website for contact details, up-to-date information on prices and opening hours